We start off with a replay of their antics (with the footage being made all grainy for artistic effect, because that’s definitely what you would do if this was real), followed by Cole telling us that “they seem to be hiding behind current events as an excuse for this wanton destruction” and that WWE has hired extra security to deal with them.
Let’s start with the smaller thing. You’ve hired extra security for tonight. Good. Why the f*ck didn’t you take this step for Raw! Or, even better, for last week’s Smackdown. It’s not like you didn’t know these people had been lobbing Molotov cocktails at your generator a few days earlier!
Now for the bigger thing. “Current events,” huh? We all know that they’re talking about the George Floyd protests, but the problem is that right now that’s pretty much past the “massive demonstrations that some people will use as cover for/an excuse to loot for either greed or some insane radical Leftist belief that ‘CORPORATIONS AND GLOBALIZATION ARE EVIL, THEREFORE I SHALL FIGHT THE POWER BY SMASHING THE WINDOW OF A LOCAL STARBUCKS!” phase. If that was the case, then where were these people in June?
In fact, “current events” has been WWE’s codeword for COVID, so it really seems like, in a logical kayfabe world, the idea is that these people are just going stir crazy due to quarantine. Again: I’m certain that wasn’t what WWE’s intended kayfabe explanation was, but in kayfabe it is by far the most logical… and that just shows what a poor job WWE has done with all of this.
And while I’m on the subject, having news of their existence first come from official WWE sources was SUCH a mistake it’s not even funny. Obviously it kills any ability to buy into the idea that these are independent troublemakers rather just another WWE gimmick, but it also conditions us to take our cues on their intentions from WWE, and thus it makes Cole’s speculation on their motives here seem a lot more authoritative than it would have otherwise, which once again takes away any idea that these people are something different.
BIG E. PROMO- good
I love him correcting the announcers’ portrayal of him as someone who hasn’t been a singles wrestler before.
JOHN MORRISON PROMO- a little too goofy
JOHN MORRISON vs. BIG. E.- no rating, bad segment
Big E. still talking in the plural in his entrance is weird. Also, the “people at home!” bit is weird when there is an actual crowd there.
Before the match can even get started, the lights flicker and here comes a bunch of people from Retribution. So much for your “extra security,” huh?
Some of them even have baseball bats! Not the ones that attack JoMo and Big E., of course. The ones with the baseball bats just stand on the announcers table and swing the bats at the table THAT THEY ARE STANDING ON! And these people managed to outwit WWE’s extra security? How dumb must that security be?!
Anyway, Big E. and JoMo get beaten down, and not one person from the back runs out to help them. Retribution then ran off on their own, or possibly all twenty-two of them- including the three with baseball bats- were all running away from an unarmed Miz.
I will say one thing to praise WWE’s booking of this, though. At least they were smart enough not to have these guys destroy the ring again. If they had, it would have prevented us from having whatever wretched bullsh*t confrontation Strowman and The Fiend are supposed to be having later, and thus ran the risk of turning them bayface.
A BUNCH OF WRESTLERS SIT AROUND WITH MORRISON & BIG E. BACKSTAGE- bad
We’re supposed to think less of Miz for making some sort of excuse as to why he didn’t come out to help, but I can’t help but wonder why that same criticism doesn’t apply to anyone else we see here, especially the babyfaces (Lucha House Party, Drew Gulak).
Corbin shows up and gives a speech about how they need someone to lead them and help them keep themselves safe. Based on the evidence so far, I’m inclined to agree with him. He says he should be the leader, and blames Big E. for apparently antagonizing Retribution with a tweet. Big E. then gets up and gives a “this is our house!” speech and insults the Foot Clan by comparing Retribution to them. Big E. goes on with his speech, and proclaims to set an example for everyone as to how to stand up to Retribution, he’s going to… beat John Morrison in a wrestling match? Huh?
Sheamus shows up and calls Big E.’s speech a “desperate ploy for help.” Well… yeah. Isn’t that what inspirational speeches like this are? Anyone asking “WHO’S WITH ME!” is clearly in need of aid for their cause, or else they wouldn’t be asking the question.
Sheamus and Big E. had a confrontation in which Sheamus said that Retribution wouldn’t dare interfere in his match with Chad Gabe because they’re so afraid of him, and reiterated that Big E. is alone without Woods and Kofi. Big E. says that he isn’t alone, and then proves it by leaving and having all of the assembled babyfaces, plus Chad Gable follow him. I think Creative might have forgotten that Gable turned heel.
To stop Retribution from running into the ringside area again, security have now been moved to crowd. Okay… so now who’s stopping Retribution from blowing up the generator or smashing more windows or setting a tiger loose in the production truck or whatever wacky antics they have planned?
SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY PROMO- Because these two have to talk on every single f*cking show, apparently. They said pretty much nothing useful. Someone decided it was okay to let them be ring announcers. This, too, was annoying.
TRIPLE-BRAND BATTLE ROYALE FOR A WWE SMACKDOWN WOMENS’ TITLE SHOT AT SUMMERSLAM- 4/10
You’d think that every woman on the roster would jump at the chance to be in this, but apparently not. There no Alexa Bliss!, Nia Jax, Mickie James, Nattie, Lana, Zelina Vega, Carmella, Sonya Deville, or Mandy Rose, and the only two women from NXT in this thing were Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart. It’s a random battle royale for a title shot. I want a reason why these other women (especially the majority of the NXT roster) weren’t in this damn thing!
And why is Asuka in this match if she is already challenging Sasha for the title?
Anyway, Asuka won, because she’s still feuding with both Bayley and Sasha, and G-d forbid anything new happen in in this division. I don’t like the “I’m not technically standing on the floor” loophole, but in this case, it was more palatable since it was essentially fate preventing Sasha and Bayley’s distraction for causing Asuka’s elimination. Also, at least now Asuka beating Bayley cleanly on Raw isn’t going to waste.
ASUKA ATTACKS SASHA & BAYLEY FOR NO REASON- Why did she do this?
Also, apparently Asuka was allowed to be in the match, even she “wasn’t on the formal list.” If you’re going to say sh*t like this, you need to explain why no one else who “wasn’t on the formal list” got in the match?
MANDY ROSE PROMO- F*CKING AWESOME!
The news here is that she’s challenging Sonya to a hair vs. hair match at SummerSlam, but you NEED to see this promo.
SHEAMUS SENDS AWAY TWO SECURITY GUARDS BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY RETRIBUTION WILL ATTACK WHILE HE’S AROUND BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO SCARED OF HIM- So either:
1. Sheamus is part of Retribution and the security guards are dumbasses for leaving their post on the orders of someone who isn’t in charge.
2. Both Sheamus and the security guards are dumbasses.
ALEXA BLISS! & NIKKI CROSS BACKSTAGE- good
Nikki apologizes for pushing Alexa a few weeks ago, as seeing her friend in real danger has put everything in perspective for her and helped her remember what is really important. Hooray for people acting like real humans!
Nikki wants Alexa to leave because the Braun/Fiend confrontation puts her in danger, but Alexa insists on staying around to get answers.
SHEAMUS vs. CHAD GABLE- 5.75/10
Sheamus beat Gable clean, which was very frustrating, as it shows that even with this new turn, Gable still isn’t going anywhere. Retribution did not show up at all, which surprised me.
AJ STYLES AND JOSEPH PARK ARE INFRONT OF A COMPUTER BACKSTAGE- Apparently we’re getting the debut of the “Phenomenal Intercontinental Statistics Systems.” Very clever, Vince.
AJ STYLES INTRODUCES THE PHENOMENAL INTERCONTINENTAL STATISTICS SYSTEM- fine
Michael Cole called Joseph Park “corporate-looking.” AJ used that name on the air, so here comes the lawsuit from Anthem. It’d be pretty funny to see WWE on the wrong side of one of those.
Predictably, the only person ranked in AJ’s system is AJ. Jeff Hardy eventually comes out and points out that he was taken out of the IC Title tournament that AJ won, so he wants a title shot. AJ was rude to Jeff so Jeff attacked him and laid him out with his finisher. Jeff then wrote his name on AJ’s big board. This worked for me.
LUCHA HOUSE PARTY STEAL THE TAG TITLES DURING A CEASRO & NAKAMURA INTERVIEW- I’ve called things “cartoon bullsh*t” before, but this was a new level. Lucha House party were f*cking tiptoeing in the background, paused when they got found out, and then sprinted away. If someone pitched this on a Creative team I was running, I would have pulled the keys off of that person’s laptop and made him or her eat them, one by one.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES- good
He’s angry at Jeff and willing to give him a title shot now. We’d later learn that this match is booked for next week.
SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (w/Cesaro) vs. GRAN METALIK (w/Lincé Dorado)- 3.5/10
Michael Cole is predictably excusing the babyfaces’ theft as “just having a little fun.” I hope someone decides to “just have a little fun” with Michael Cole’s wallet. Loser House Party surrendered the titles without a fight, so at least there was that.
They did some stuff. Then Kalisto returned from an injury we hadn’t heard of before to cause a distraction and help his friend win. How on Earth could anyone think Lucha House Party are the babyfaces after watching this show?
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS MATT RIDDLE- fine
He starts to cut a promo on Corbin before Chad Gable shows up to apologize. Riddle bought it, and so did I. It was actually just a set-up for Corbin to jump Riddle from behind. What I don’t understand if they want to injure Riddle, why didn’t they keep beating on him instead o just letting him go with one running shot to the back?
ALEXA BLISS! SIT-DOWN INTERVIEW- snore
She and Braun became best friends during the Mixed Match Challenge. Sure, that was two years ago and they’ve barely been seen interacting on TV ever since despite being on the same show the entire time, but hey, who interacts with their best friend on TV that often? Well… other than Sasha and Bayley. And The Shield guys. And New Day. And the IIconics. And Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. And Alexa and her other best friend Nikki Cross.
So yeah. This is contrived and dumb. And, of course, Alexa says she was open the possibility of their relationship turning romantic. She says that being in The Fiend’s presence is both scary and “compelling.” “Compelling” is not a word that should ever be applied to The Fiend. She was asked for her thoughts on Braun claiming he didn’t care about her last week, and we cut to black without her answering.
SONYA DEVILLE PROMO- GREAT!
She accepts Mandy’s challenge for a hair vs. hair match.
JOHN MORRISON vs. BIG E.- 5/10
The Miz was on commentary for this match. He distracted Big E. to allow Morrison to work on his injured knee. Otis came out to yell at Miz. The lights flickered, but instead of Retribution, we just went to a commercial break. When the lights came back on, a bunch of the wrestlers were surrounding the ring. Okay… who’s backstage making sure Retribution doesn’t smash up the equipment? Remember that in the majority of instances that we’ve seen them, they’ve done property damage rather than assault people.
The lights soon flickered again and… yup. I called it. They’re running around backstage and smashing things. Well… I guess I was only partially right, as they are making a point of assaulting the helpless referees and Valued Backstage Crewmembers™, too. They barricade a dude in a bathroom. Lucky him. He’s not going to get an ass-kicking now. He can just keep on sh*tting and reading his magazine.
The wrestlers aren’t running backstage to stop this because don’t know it’s happening. Did it not occur to whoever decided to put this up on the TV feed to also put it up on the TitanTron where the wrestlers could see it? Hell… why hasn’t someone coming running out from backstage screaming for help? Why don’t YOU get up and tell them, Cole?
Ah. Here comes Jessica Karr to save the day. Miz stayed on commentary and didn’t go help. Also not going to help were John Morrison and Big E., which seems kind of sh*tty after Big E.’s big speech. By the time they get to catering, Retribution is already gone. Before cutting back to the ring, the cameraperson made a point of panning over to the WWE cancellation graffiti that Retribution left, and we got a fantastic shot of Tucker Knight look at this with his hand on his chin like he can’t figure out what it means. What a dumbass.
Big E. won clean, making Morrison look like a total loser for losing to someone who was already injured. Sheamus then laid Big E. out with a Brogue Kick. I guess I was wrong about a potential four-way feud last week, and so I hereby take back all of the credit I gave WWE.
“A MONSTROUS CONFRONTATION”- bad
From that name alone, you should have known this was going to suck. It started with Braun declaring himself to be “the most evil son of a bitch that you or anyone on this Earth had ever laid eyes on.” So worse than Stalin? Or Jeffrey Dahmer? Or even worse than Hitler? That doesn’t seem like someone I want to root for.
Braun went on to promise to KILL The Fiend by ripping him in half and eating his insides. Really. That’s not me making a joke.
Instead of The Fiend, Alexa Bliss! came out and told Braun she wanted to have a “real conversation” about their friendship. Braun then says that he didn’t like all of that goofy stuff Alexa made him do when they were Mixed Match Challenge partners. He then noted that “everyone who comes into contact with The Fiend changes, including you.”
That last point was kind of interesting, Alexa should be due for some sort of change like everyone else, and so Braun preemptively distancing himself from her seems kind of smart. Then again, that claim about everyone changing isn’t quite true, as Mick Foley didn’t change, nor has Goldberg (and we don’t know that Cena has changed, either, since we haven’t seen him since). And, now that I think about it, Daniel Bryan didn’t really change much, either, did he?
Braun orders Alexa to leave and says he wants The Fiend. Alexa tells him to be careful what he wishes for, then says she’s slap some sentence into him She gets Braun to turn towards her, at which point she starts to slap him in the face repeatedly. Braun gets sick of this, so he grabs Alexa and lifts her up in the air. The lights take forever to fully turn off, and just as they’re about to turn off, Braun decides to toss Alexa into the air. When they came back on, Braun was missing, and The Fiend was in the ring with an injured Alexa.
Braun is on the TitanTron now, and is laughing evilly. The Fiend then began to laugh, maybe or imitate a dying seal. Braun roared, we got a stupid Fiend screen effect, and the show ended, without us ever getting the confrontation that was advertised.
Braun and Alexa actually played their roles pretty damn well here, but the premise was unsavable because it was just another stupid, magic-based stalling segment, like everything The Fiend is involved in.
This was a very bad episode of Smackdown whose only saving grace were the promos from Mandy and Sonya- especially Mandy. You really do need make sure you see that promo.
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Hold #712: ARM BAR!
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Northern Gate
CHIKARA Hot Off the Griddle
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